NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

In Drug Development, Computers Replacing Test Tubes

September 25, 2001

Chemists in pharmaceutical firms are trading in their test-tube-filled labs for computers these days, as they search for the next blockbuster drugs. It's a result of the "genomics revolution" -- the successful effort to sequence the human genome.

  • All the drugs that have been invented to date have come from targeting the protein products of only 500 genes.
  • Researchers guess that the human genome contains between 30,000 and 40,000 genes -- one-tenth of which are reckoned to be possible targets for new drugs.
  • Genomics could greatly reduce the cost of developing a new drug -- perhaps by $300 million, according to Boston Consulting Group estimates.
  • In the past, it might take some $200 million just to develop drugs for human testing -- and another $500 million or so to test their toxicity and effectiveness in human subjects.

Source: "Drugs Ex Machina," Economist, September 22, 2001.


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